Pericles & Patronymics

Like anyone who has been burdened with a patronymic they despised, particularly one that schoolboys found laughable, one strove to avoid mentioning it.

In marriage I chose a man with a simple name, only to have my German laundry mangle it thoroughly. In later life I took on the name of a Russian immigrant’s progeny who had come through Ellis Island. I leave it to the imagination what a scramble they made of that.

Finally I was swift enough to request my very own name.
Think of it!
My very own name that I wouldn’t have to change on my Social Security card or driver’s license, nor my bank accounts and on and on.

I confess it went to my head. A lawyer told me about the DBA (Doing Business As) confection, whereby a person could also – given an established name and bank account, do business and even incorporate if necessary. Now I didn’t have to ask permission to raise a loan, to establish credit, own whatever car I could afford. Take a trip around the world. Oh heavenly joy!

Thus Pericles.
One word everybody recognizes, his name emblazoned, carved in stone, mind you, to raise the citizens of Athens to defend themselves en masse.

Pericles statue

Pericles statue

Pericles. Such power! Everybody answered his call to arms.

And there one day, at the Ethnographic museum in Athens, I saw the very tablet on which the word was spread, and though my grasp of Ancient Greek was limited to the Greek letter clubs of American universities, I could discern his name, and elements of the proclamation the young docent pointed out.

Thrilling reminder of where it all started: a place where slaves underwrote the seeds of democracy, and where women, if they had the touch of the gods, could be remembered by one name also (Sappho, Cassandra, Medea, Helen- although it took the Trojan disaster to name her fully).

So hurray for the Greeks, despite the scramble they’ve made of their economics.

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About helenscribe

Helen is a long-time writer, with experience in both fiction and non-fiction. Her latest fiction, an English cozy mystery "The Domino Deaths" is available on Amazon. She is also an amateur painter and sailor.
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